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October 13, 2015

Virginians Support Closing the Coverage Gap

The evidence is mounting that Virginians want more people in the state to have health insurance and the peace of mind that comes with it.

The latest news is a new survey that found 74 percent of likely Virginia voters say they want state lawmakers to accept federal dollars to close the coverage gap. That’s a lot of voters.


They believe that providing quality, affordable health coverage for their fellow Virginians is simply the right thing to do and think it’s wrong that Virginia lawmakers continue to leave 195,000 constituents out in the cold.

Most of those constituents are in working families struggling to get by. They aren’t eligible for Virginia’s unnecessarily restrictive Medicaid program and don’t make enough to get tax credits to buy private insurance in the federal Marketplace. Closing Virginia’s coverage gap would provide economic stability for people working hard to make ends meet.

While it’s clear that the federal Affordable Care Act is helping to increase insurance coverage across the nation, Virginia and other states that have turned down federal assistance continue to fall behind.

Unlike Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland, where active engagement with the ACA has led to dramatic increases in the number people with health insurance, Virginia’s performance has been dismal. Just over half of the Virginians who qualify for tax credits to buy health insurance in the exchange have signed up, and none of the people with very low incomes who would be eligible for coverage from Medicaid under the ACA are able to get it because state lawmakers have refused to close the coverage gap.

So as candidates make their case and voters consider the issues facing Virginia and ways to address them, everyone should remember that in their districts hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people can’t get routine health care and rely on the emergency room when they get sick. All Virginians deserve the economic and physical security that comes from being able to get the health care they need when they need it without confronting huge medical bills. It’s time to move forward.

–Rebecca Park, Health Care Advocacy Coordinator

The Commonwealth Institute

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